The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) has called on the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to improve upon safeguarding the privacy of citizens’ data to earn their trust and fully implement the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).
The NDPB national commissioner, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, who made this known in his working visit to the corporate headquarters of NIMC today in Abuja stated that the commission, which is the highest data controller in the country, should be a model for other data controllers since data is the foundation of everything in the country’s digital economy.
During his visit where he met with the NIMC director-general, Engr. Abdulaziz Abubakar and his management team, Olatunji said the privacy of data is an essential element in the process of achieving proper identification of citizens.
“There is nothing you would want to do in the digital economy without proper identity and you can’t achieve that without adequate privacy and protection of data,” he noted.
While restating the dedication of his team to actualising the bureau’s mandate, Olatunji said creating awareness for data controllers and data processors on their obligations to data subjects is their next line of action and there was no better place to start than with the NIMC.
“With the registration of the National Identification Number (NIN) in the country hitting about 80 million, I don’t know any other data controller in the country with the amount of data you have uniquely. This fact necessitated our visit here and should be a model for other data controllers to emulate in the country,” he said.
While giving accolades to the commission for the job done so far in ensuring all Nigerians have an identity, Olatunji however stated that best data protection practices must be adopted in the handling of citizenry data to meet global standards.
Although he conceded that there is no perfect system, the NDPB boss urged the commission to constantly review their processes, data privacy and improve where necessary. He further admonished the commission to align with the Nigerian Data Protection Regulations (NDPR) which is the subsidiary legislation in terms of data protection in the country.
“In terms of filing annual audit report, we want NIMC to demonstrate that leadership by filing with us as enshrined in the NDPR, to serve as an example to all data controllers because you are the biggest data controller.”
Emphasising the bureau’s plan on engaging in massive capacity-building, Olatunji disclosed that the capacities of the bureau’s staff, as well as staff of major data controllers in the country, remain a top priority while collaboration plans with relevant stakeholders in representing the Federal Government and the interest of all Nigerians go on simultaneously.
“Our idea of compliance is not to seek organisations to sanction but to create awareness and make compliance a culture by design and default – thereby making it a culture. This is the level we want to raise data privacy and protection to in Nigeria,” he concluded.
Earlier, Abubakar, in his welcome remarks, applauded the bureau for its efforts in ensuring the privacy and protection of citizenry data and disclosed that the commission is an advocate of data protection as well.
Revealing the mandate of the commission to come up with a database of all citizens, legal residents in the country and harmonising all discrete databases, the DG stated that the NIN would help mitigate crime and fight insecurity in the country.
Abubakar further assured of the commission’s support to the bureau in ensuring that the privacy and protection of the process are always maintained in line with the NDPR.